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The Dentist Dilemma

I experienced the dentist for the first time in over 7 years today. Yes, quite an embarrassing amount of time. I took my daughter this morning. I decided to make an appointment for myself due to the extraordinary amount of cavities she had. I’m not sure if it’s me, or dentistry policies have changed.

Upon arrival, the hygienist let me pick out the cinnamon paste, which I love. It was my first time at this dentistry so I’ll point out where the confusion comes in.

What does my insurance cover?

We did a full set of x-rays and a very excellent teeth cleaning. The dental hygienist was extremely nice throughout. She explained that she did see one of my teeth had a cracked filling.

My insurance was not accepted here since it’s medicare insurance, which is understandable. I worked in the healthcare industry throughout college and we quit accepting Medicare patients. This was due to the fact that Medicare didn’t reimburse for many services and when it did, it wasn’t much.

Being on disability does not provide the amount of money one needs to live and raise a child on in this environment. I continue to live close to her father in case something happens to me. My daughter doesn’t need to be uprooted from her friends and father.

Confusion at the dentist

I became quite confused when the dental hygienist explained I needed to return for a comprehensive visit. I asked if the dentist would still be in to examine my teeth for any cavities I would need to be filled. I’ve never been to the dentist where the actual dentist didn’t come in after your cleaning to check the work and point out any cavities I may need to return for. The amounts charged for my daughter and I were the same, yet the dentist didn’t stop to see me.

Instead, the dental hygienist told me at the end of the teeth cleaning about the additional visit. When I questioned what I would need the appointment for, she explained that all new patients are required to have one and the visit will last about an hour so I could see the dentist. What the what?

Should I stay or should I go?

I’m already paying out of pocket. Now I’m learning that I have to return for a visit to talk to the dentist for an hour before I could find out where the cavities are. Had they told me about this extra “required visit”, I would have requested my records to go elsewhere and get any cavities filled.

So, while I was checking out, I made more inquiries into this additional visit where there would not be any work done on my teeth, just talk about where to go from here. The receptionist explained that I only had to do it once and it lasted about an hour and we would map out my long term dental care.

Making medical decisions right for me

I started laughing. I must have looked like a complete lunatic. Having Stage 4 lung cancer for 6.5 years and needing a long term plan? Surely they must be joking. What do I need a plan for? I’m 39 years old and my cancer just returned. I had it radiated, but I just want my cavities fixed.

I’m not putting a long term investment into my teeth. Forcing me to return for an extra $145 for a consultation is ridiculous. What happened to the days where you could just have your teeth cleaned, the dentist check it, and make an appointment for each cavity to be filled? Now I have quite the conundrum, should I stay or should I go? I’m thinking I should wait for the 6 months, get my records, and go to another dentist.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 week ago

    Samantha, I have to say kudos for your patience. I know for myself I would have been cussing up a storm! Your latter observation is key … find another doctor. When things look like a money grab or chaos, unfortunately, in any medical care… run.

  • MotherT
    2 weeks ago

    Cancer and dentistry! Now there is a bad mix! I just went through this myself and still haven’t gotten the work done I needed. Chemo has all but destroyed my teeth and in order to get any work done I have to pause treatment for a month prior to dental work and a month post work. My oncologist and I agreed to pause, and I saw 2 outstanding dentists to “come up with a plan”, all with the understanding that I had a serious time constraint and didn’t want to spend a fortune. I’m not sure which part they didn’t understand, but after I constantly called them (They worked together as a team, the actual work and the prosthesis work) I ended up with an estimate of $60.000.00 and months of healing time. I was dumbfounded and just could not justify spending that kind of money when I wasn’t at all sure of the future! My stress level went through the roof, and on top of everything it was time for my 6 month CT scan. Well, God has a way of sorting things out if you ask Him, and the scan showed a slight progression and I had a small window of time to restart treatment if it was to be effective. Bless my Onc, who said one day at a time, it’s all about priorities. First let’s get treatment started again, and if a tooth requires major work we will deal with that then. Long story short, I am still in treatment, feeling good, able to chew and have an unbelievably complicated dental hygiene routine that is slowing the damage somewhat. One day at a time! Two things I learned from this. Dental insurance is nothing but a discount, and that dry mouth you have now is doing irreparable damage to your teeth and gums! I am working with the Cancer Family Council at my facility to try and get some dentists to come on board and help educate staff and patients. So far no takers, but I will keep trying. Great article Samantha, thank you!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 week ago

    I’m glad your situation worked itself out.Imagine such a cost is one of a decent salary. Please continue getting a team together to help educate patients on the need for good dental care along with being treated with cancer. Best!

  • Ronda Beaty moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Samantha. I must say I was not prepared for the dental issues cancer brings. Until my diagnosis I had few dental issues. Wham! Since diagnosis I have had 2 root canals, 4 fillings, several cracked tooth repairs. (Good) dental insurance is hard to come by. Talk to your dentist. Explain your situation. Let him/her know you don’t want to invest a large amount of money into your teeth, and why. Negotiate cost. If your dentist displays little compassion? Find a new one.

  • judycarol
    1 week ago

    After my first round of chemo and radiation. I chose to have all my upper teeth that weren’t in a partial crowned. Crowns for need lower teeth. Never again would I subject my billfold or mouth to the cost and pain. Now cancer back and I’m still fighting to keep my mouth pain free.

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